Nashville to Nepal, Vol.4: The Meeting

(Continued from Nashville to Nepal, Vol. 3: The Company)

Last Sunday, April 2, 2017, was a mind-boggling day for Holly, Dawa, and myself. In many ways, it was the day that Hobnail Trekking Company became a living and breathing entity rather than just an idea.

This is where the first Hobnail meeting happened.

The Pegram Community Club at the Depot hosted our very first meeting.

We had our first informational meeting in Pegram, Tennessee, kind of the sister town to Kingston Springs, where Holly and I live. Both “downtowns” are small enough to hit a golf ball across — with a pitching wedge. We held our meeting at the Pegram Community Club at the Depot, which is a former train depot and still has an active track running through the front yard.

Holly and I spent the prior week preparing for the meeting without any real knowledge of how it would go. Sure, we had great response to Facebook advertising and a story came out in the Tennessean newspaper the day before, but we’ve all been through a scenario where we expect people to show up for something and they don’t.

Sunday morning was busy, a mad rush of placing chairs, hanging prayer flags (with the help of Dawa’s family), and making an unscheduled run to Best Buy in Nashville for last-minute electronics. By 1:30, we were essentially ready. The meeting would start at 2. As the next 15 minutes progressed, Holly stared at each other with the same unspoken fear: What if nobody shows? Will it signal the end of this dream? Think of all the time, effort, and money that we had sunk into this crazy plan. Were we absolutely insane? Both of us were nearly sick with worry.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

And then, at about 1:50 something wonderful happened. Cars began pulling into the gravel parking lot. Slowly at first. After the initial three people entered, we thought, “OK, at least we’ve got somebody to talk to.”

But then, to our utter amazement, more cars came. One after another. Enough people filed in that a line formed at the registration table that our 15-year-old daughter, Ava, was staffing.  At one point, we made eye contact and Ava mouthed the letters “OMG” to me with huge eyes.

By about 2:05, the room was nearly full and people were happily sampling the Nepali butter tea and the staple dish dal bhat that Dawa’s mother, Nima, had so expertly prepared. The atmosphere practically buzzed with electricity.

I pulled Holly aside in a quiet corner of the room. “Can you freaking believe this?” I hissed at her.

“I’m about to cry,” she whispered back. Her eyes were glistening.

We began the meeting, speaking to an eager crowd of nearly 30. Holly was the consummate professional, Dawa was charming and compelling, and I was my regular ol’ goofy self. Almost two hours later, we had to gently encourage the crowd to leave, hoping all their questions had been answered. People shook our hands with vigor on their way out, expressing their excitement over the Everest Base Camp treks they would soon be scheduling and thanking us for creating the opportunity.

In that two hours, a roomful of bucket lists had been revisited — this time with real expectations — and an impossible idea conceived of just six months earlier became a real thing.

Now, we move forward. Now, we train. Now, we plan.

Now, we go to Mt. Everest.

To be continued…

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